The ACCC has granted authorisation to the Licensed Post Office Group Ltd (LPO Group) and its current and future licensed post office members to collectively negotiate with Australia Post.
LPO Group and its members sought authorisation from the ACCC to collectively negotiate and enter into a new agreement with Australia Post, or to vary agreements already in place for the provision of postal and distribution services by Licensed Post Offices (LPOs).
LPO Group currently has 870 members and will represent 525 of these financial members in negotiations with Australia Post. Australia Post currently has a total network of 2881 licensed post offices.
“The ACCC decided that collective negotiation is likely to lead to public benefits, such as cost savings and greater LPO input from having a single negotiation process for all members, instead of individual discussions,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
“It is voluntary to participate in the proposed collective negotiations and each LPO Group member and Australia Post can decide whether they would benefit from such negotiations.”
Under the proposed arrangements, LPO Group members who have opted-in to the collective bargaining group will agree not to negotiate with Australia Post on an individual basis during periods of collective negotiations with Australia Post.
Authorisation does not extend to any collective boycott of Australia Post products or services supplied by LPOs.
“These voluntary collective negotiations are unlikely to result in significant public detriment, as competition between licensed post offices is limited. LPO Group members are free to leave the bargaining group or choose to negotiate individually with Australia Post at any time,” Dr Schaper said.
It is not a condition of LPO Group membership that members join the collective bargaining group, and LPO Group members are not prevented from also joining other industry representative groups.
Further information, including the draft decision, is available from the ACCC’s Authorisations public register.
LPO Group is an industry organisation formed in August 2013 to represent the interests of its members, who qualify for membership through their ownership of a Licensed Post Office business. It is one of two industry organisations that represent the interests of LPO’s, the other being the Post Office Agents Association Limited (POAAL)
LPOs are private businesses which are granted an indefinite licence by Australia Post to operate a post office using Australia Post products, branding and systems. LPOs provide a number of products and services as part of Australia Post's retail network. Australia Post provides each LPO with specified fees, commissions or discounts in relation to these products and services. LPOs are considered franchisees as they operate under a franchise agreement with Australia Post.
On 16 August 2017, the ACCC released a draft determination proposing to grant authorisation for five years to LPO Group and its current and future members (together, the Applicants) to collectively negotiate, enter into and give effect to the LPO Agreement with Australia Post, and give effect to exclusivity provisions.
On 30 June 2017, LPO Group was granted interim authorisation to collectively negotiate and enter into agreements with Australia Post by the ACCC. This authorisation was limited to the annual review of licensee payments under the LPO Agreement, as well as the appropriate level of remuneration for any new services introduced by Australia Post during the period of interim authorisation. The interim authorisation decision did not impose any obligation for any party to participate in collective bargaining.
Notes to Editors
Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.
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